Let’s Paint

How rad is this little princess?!

The Dude is a believer that we all have art inside of us. It’s just a matter of figuring out how to get it out. My guess is that art vibe gets buried deeper the longer we wait to bring it out…always there none-the-less.

Never to early to bring out the artist. Plus, kids have that raw connection.

This is four year-old Aelita Andre. She has a solo show opening at New York City’s Agora Gallery on June 4th. It should probably not come as too much of a surprise that a child should be able to produce beautiful, abstract expressionist art on par with the professionals, who are probably tapping their “inner children,” anyway.

The beauty of Aelita is that she has been given the freedom to create. She has been given free reign to express herself, with as much space and materials to explore her creativity as anyone could want. As a result, she displays real talent; working in a thoughtful, methodical way, and making deliberate creative choices.

Amazing to watch such a peanut be so focused and intense.

Happy Memorial Day

Lovin' Summer

Lovin' Summer

Little Dude is loving the unofficial start to summer. Warm weather, water, and no clothes. Check, check, and check.

Although, I did leave him diaperless for a little too long. Shortly after this picture, Little Dude deposited a gift on the deck. One instance where my reaction of “Oh, crap!” was literal. Always interesting to wrangle toddler, dogs, and poop at one time.

Oh well. C’est la vie. Bring on summer…poop and all.

Happy Memorial Day to you and yours.

On the Road

The past couple weeks have been a whirlwind. Two trips to Connecticut in two weeks. And by trips I mean car rides. And by two I don’t mean up and back; I mean up and back TWICE. For the record, that’s approximately 12 hours each way. But when you factor in a stop to rally the troops at my sister’s house, it’s more like 14+ door to door.


The first trip was a much needed visit to my Mother’s parents, i.e. my Grandparents. It had been a little over a year since we visited, and Gram and Pop had yet to meet Little Dude. Some QT was definitely a necessity.

However, there is no easy way to travel. After some hemming and hawing, we decided that Dude and Little Dude would hit the road on their own and rendezvous with the Lady in the Shoe, one of her many offspring, and my mother for a group trip in one minivan to CT. Makes the trip easier for everyone and saves quite a bit of cabbage…although the whole fam was missed.

It was a fantastic trip. Little Dude did much better in his seat than I expected…driving through the night is a must. So good to see my Grandparents and have them meet LD…GreatMa was the first to teach him how to clap! 🙂 It was a great opportunity for some Daddy/Little Dude bonding….it’s fun being his Dad. We even found time to add some flowers to their yard. All in all, a great trip, and we made it home safe and sound. Although, these before and after pictures describe the effects of traveling with a toddler pretty accurately:

On the Road - Before

On the Road - Before

On the Road - After

On the Road - After

Two days after arriving home, we received the unfortunate news that my Dad’s mother, aka Baba, passed away. And the services would be held in CT. Back to the road.

This time it was like my childhood revisited. The Dude, Mom, Dad, The Lady in the Shoe, and one of her many offspring piled in a minivan. Family roadtrip. I don’t think we made a trip like that since my sister was looking at colleges twenty years ago. Strange but fun.

Death tends to instigate reflection. It’s an opportunity to remember the life someone led and the effect they had on other people.

Driving in a car for 12+ hours also tends to instigate reflection. Quite the combo; faced with one of life’s most basic truths (i.e. death), and nothing but time to think about it. As the tires rolled along the highway, I filled my time with thoughts of the lasting effects Baba would leave with me.

It’s a deep thought process. What do we take from someone we love? How do they make us who we are?

Baba was a character. Many would categorize her as a disciplinarian…usually her family. But the flip side is that many would say how loving and generous she was. Complicated, but I guess everyone is.

I fall somewhere in the middle. As her second Grandchild, I was early in the cycle of her relaxing with age. I was exposed to her disciplinarian ways, but I never really took her seriously, and as the older sibling, the Lady in the Shoe was outspoken enough for both of us. Over the years, I developed a joking but loving relationship with Baba where she never forced discipline on me, but always offered a loving hug, smile and kind word.

In the end, I have nothing but fond memories of my time with Baba. As I rolled through the catalog of Baba memories, I searched for that lasting effect. The nugget that I would always say was Baba.

After a two day trip north, I still could not hit the bulls-eye. I wandered through memories, and smiled at the loving thoughts, but could not land on the life lessons I would hold close.

Then I went through the funeral process – the wake, pallbearer, and burial – and I realized that my thoughts didn’t need to be so deep. I didn’t need to look so hard for the lasting effects. Perhaps the process was needed to work through a loss, but the answer was much simpler.


That’s the lasting effect I take from Baba. Family. And the importance of holding family close.

This may seem like an odd lesson considering the trajectory of Baba’s life, but to me (and I think Baba in the end) it makes complete sense.

Baba was a fighter, and she could hold a grudge. I won’t pretend to know the difficulties she faced through her life or the experiences that shaped who she was, but I do know that she would tell you what she believed (right or wrong), and if you didn’t like it, she wasn’t afraid to cut you out of her life. Seems harsh. And it is. But it’s part of who she was.

As a result, there are groups of family members that we don’t knowt. But a funeral brings people together. It brings long-lost family out of hiding.

As I took in the funeral process, I realized how much family is connected…regardless of disagreements. Baba may have been a fighter, and probably alienated some folks, but family remains connected. Memories remain and similarities persist.

It is amazing to see a group of distant relatives in one room. Similar looks, similar memories, similar mannerisms. Connections that run deep, despite disagreements and separation.

Genetics is strong.

We may disagree – and maybe even dislike – members of our family, but in the end we are connected…and we will always be.

Baba was not the same person when she passed as she was throughout her life. I’m sure none of us are. We grow, mature, and relax. As I said, I have fond and loving memories of Baba, and despite any imperfections, this is the woman I know she was; kind, loving, and an outspoken fighter for what she believed to be right.

Baba loved her family. Despite disagreements, that love was strong. Families do not  always get along, but the love that she shared with her kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids was evident and passed down through the generations.

To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.

— inaccurately attributed to
Ralph Waldo Emerson

I love this quote. I think it is a great description of a life well lived, and I can unequivocally confirm that Baba lived a great life according to this standard.

I am a better person for knowing and being loved by her. I can’t pinpoint that single lesson that Baba bestowed, but I know that I am who I am as a result of having her in my life and the genetics passed down the long line to me.

Baba, I love you. You will be missed, but I smile when I think of the great life you lived. Thank you for being the person you are.

Draw Happy

Who doesn't love chilling and castles?

Who doesn't love chilling and castles?

As I’v mentioned, the Dude is a big fan of blogging…in case you couldn’t tell by the blog that I update on a regular basis. I’m all for supporting a good blog.

I’ve recently noticed a trend in blogging for a blog to pick a very narrow topic and then get readers to add content. It’s a great way to create user generated content around a highly focused idea. I love it. I haven’t thought of a great idea for one yet, but here’s a fantastic example: Draw Happy.

The author was particularly interested in what makes us happy…great topic! In an effort to gather some happiness research, she asked people to draw what makes them happy, and the blog is the chronicle of these drawings.

Sweet idea, right?

Here’s how the “About” section explains it:

“In asking people, locals and tourists alike, what made them happy, I realized that one of the most universal and clearest ways to record their responses was to ask them to draw what made them happy. Drawing is one of the earliest skills we learn; its basic elements are comprehensible to people of all ages, cultures and nations.”

Being a Dad is the Bee’s Knees

Bee's Knees

Bee's Knees

Bee’s knees is such a fantastic, great, rad way to say fantastic, great, rad. According to the Urban Dictionary the reasoning behind such a great phrase is…

“When bees flit from flower to flower the nectar sticks to their legs. The phrase “bee’s knees” means sweet and good, because the knees of the bee are where all the sweet, good stuff is collected.”

What a great way to describe something!…anything! Bee’s knees. Classic.

Anyway…back to the point. Being a Dad is the bee’s knees. There are endless examples of this. We should probably be more aware of the bee’s-kneesness of things, but life is life. It’s tough to be present all the time. But sometimes we get a jolt that brings us back. The Princess gave me a jolt tonight.

Blog topics tend to come and go with me. If I don’t write down my thoughts, like a bee, they flit away. And even after I write them down, the thoughts could still end up on the cutting room floor.

So is the case with tonight’s post…at least before I got a good jolt.

One night last week, the Dude and the Princess entered into their nightly ritual – the “What did you do today?” ritual. One of my favs. It went something like this…

Dude: What did you do at school today?

Princess: We had gym class outside. We had to run six laps. We were walking at the end, and the teacher yelled “Girls 30 seconds!”, and we started to run as fast as we could.

Dude: Whoa. Walking? Were you supposed to be running? You need to try your hardest. Don’t be the kid at the back walking.

Now, please keep in mind that this is the girl who claims she doesn’t want to be a dancer when she grows up because it makes her ribs tired! I know!…ribs tired?! How is that even possible? It’s safe to say she could toughen up a bit.

Princess: I only like running on some days…Wednesdays and sometimes a little on Tuesday.

Apparently the day matters for her to run?!

Dude: So the day matters?

Princess: I don’t want to talk about it right now.

Dude: OK, but try your hardest at everything you do.

Princess: I know what to do now.

And that was the end of it. Seemed like a funny conversation. Perhaps blog worthy. But I let it fall on the cutting room floor. Other things to think about.

That is, until the Princess initiated the daily ritual tonight.

Princess: Know what happened today?

Dude: Nope. What happened?

Princess: We had to run five laps at gym today, and you know what?

Dude: What?

Princess: I ran all five laps. And I wasn’t even tired. I just kept running.

She was SO proud of herself.

And so was I.

Being a Dad is the bee’s knees.

Classic Dad Moment

Life is full of classic dad moments. And luckily, we have YouTube to share them with the world.

Reality is so much better than any script. You couldn’t write/act this as well as it plays out. Pure genius.

  • Cruising in the car, the kids beg dad for a song that I’m guessing he’s had enough of.
  • Dad gives in, and the kids rejoice.
  • This little dude starts to get down with his sisters, and dad innocently reminds him that he is not a single lady. Seems like a good life lesson.
  • Unfortunately, the little guy just wants to dance and doesn’t care to hear dad’s life lessons. Enter the explosion of disappointment.
  • The death stare from big sister in the middle is classic! “Way to go dad!”
  • In an effort to reverse course and save the day, dad ends up telling his son he is a single lady and singing Beyonce’s “All the Single Ladies.” Real life caught on tape…and luckily he shared it with the world for all of our enjoyment.

Ah, reality and YouTube…the perfect combination.